NHL head coach Gerard Gallant and the New York Rangers have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced on Saturday afternoon. Following a post-season media avail where Gallant got testy with the media for hyping up a narrative that he might be let go, he pointed out that he thought he and the team had two really good years and then said, “I can’t believe I have to answer these questions about getting fired.” Still, the separation is not terribly surprising.
The Rangers lost in the first round of the 2023 playoffs to the New Jersey Devils. It wasn’t necessarily that they lost, but the way his team didn’t show up in an elimination Game 7, and the veterans failed to be difference-makers with the season on the line. Gallant trusted them when he needed them to push back against a surging Devils team. It wasn’t there and he’s taking the fall (partly deserved) for it.
Dan Rosen of NHL.com tweeted, “From what I know, the Rangers have a lot of respect for Gerard Gallant and everything he did in his two seasons, but there was feedback after exit interviews and discussions with Gallant that led to the decision to part ways. Essentially, a new voice is needed.” He adds, “I’ve been told no decisions have been made on the assistant coaches, but that will be discussed in the coming days.”
Jacob Trouba noted a couple of days ago, “He’s a guy that players respect…and enjoy playing for.” Apparently, not everyone felt that way.
GM Chris Drury said of the news: “I want to first thank Gerard for his work and commitment to New York Rangers during his time as head coach. I have a ton of respect for Gerard as both a coach and a person and truly appreciate everything he did for us on and off the ice these last two seasons.” Drury noted, “After my evaluation of the season and discussions with Gerard, we mutually came to the conclusion that a change would be beneficial for both parties. I wish he and his family all the best in the future. Our search for a new head coach will begin right away.”
Joel Quenneville’s name has been in the rumor mill when it comes to who might be on the team’s radar.
In the end, the Rangers organization decided the results and the feedback weren’t a good sign and that, despite the fact there will be a potential for major turnover this offseason, new leadership was required to bounce back from a disappointing showing. One thing is clear, no matter who the coach is, the Rangers need to look internally at themselves, learn from their own mistakes, and find a way to be better. That goes especially for some of the team’s stars, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad.
Gallant released a statement on the decision and noted:
“I would like to thank Mr. Dolan, Chris + the Rangers organization for giving me the opportunity to be their head coach these last two seasons. The experience of coaching an Original Six franchise with such rich history and an incredibly passionate fanbase is something I will never forget. After conversations with my family and Chris, it became clear that this was the right decision for both myself and the Rangers at this time.”
With a number of coaching vacancies in the NHL, Gallant could become a candidate for a couple of open positions. One team to watch might be the Washington Capitals. He was interviewed by Brian MacLellan three years ago. Gallant held a 99-46-19 record in his tenure with New York including an Eastern Conference finals appearance last season.
Next: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: The Devils, Panic & Knies
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